Dear Mexican: Where did "Latino" come from?
Dear Mexican: I like reading your articles — they are funny, sad, insightful, crude, serious and even a little provocative and antagonizing at times. One thing I find a little antagonizing is the use of the term "Latino" as a synonym only for "Hispanic." I've noticed that you tend to favor "Hispanic" quite a bit more than "Latino"; thank you for that. While I may sound racist by making that remark, I am actually trying to raise cultural awareness and combat racism. I see it everywhere, and its use is absurd and has become ubiquitous. The Latins as a people, a culture, a language, a tribe, came from ancient Italy. On employment applications or government forms, the race/ethnicity section doesn't include anyone other than Hispanics as synonymous with Latin(o). Where is the room for Latin-Europeans, or Italians, French or Portuguese? As Italian-Americans, we rarely even get associated with a culture that came from our own land! See how racism can take many forms?
Livid Latin Lover
Dear Gabacho: While I appreciate your regularly reading my columna, methinks you're not poniendo much attention. If I ever use "Hispanic" in this column, it's usually in disparaging terms, as that term is a creation of the Ford administration. I barely even use "Latino," since this is a column about Mexicans, and only Mexicans (with the occasional jabs at coños, carajos, conchas and catrachas, of course). That said, I agree with the spirit of your letter, and urge you to direct your ire not toward Mexicans, but rather toward intellectuals. It was nineteenth-century French intellectuals, after all, who promoted the idea of a Latin America in opposition to Anglo-Saxon America in France's eternal struggle against the English. It was the love of anything French that drove intellectuals in Spanish-speaking countries to warm up to the idea of pan-Latino identity in their eternal struggle against gabachos. And it was gabacho intellectuals who bought into that idea in their eternal quest to categorize Spanish-speaking folks as subhuman, carrying on a clash of civilizations that goes back to the Spanish Armada trying to kill Good Queen Bess. Don't believe the hype: Mexicans will only consider themselves Latinos for welfare, Hollywood roles and affirmative action. The rest of the time, we're puros mexicanos, cabrones.
Dear Mexican: It has come to my attention that when I watch YouTube videos of 1980s music and sample italo songs, a lot of Mexicans comment on the videos. Basically, anything from Patrick Cowley, Rofo or Mike Mareen will have Mexicans commenting, mostly to give their memories of that era. My question is, how did italo dance/hi-NRG became so popular with Mexicans, at least the Mexicans from Mexico? And don't forget the more recent "El Pollito Pio" and "Macarena."
Interested Dance Music Fan
Dear Gabacho: Don't forget "Vamos a la Playa" ("Let's Go to the Beach"), by Righeira, a danceable tale of nuclear holocaust along the coast covered by Los João and immortalized in Lola la Trailera (the Mexican Smoky and the Bandit, but with more murder and mujeres). And you can even toss in "Eva Maria," a 1960s ditty by Spanish pop group Formula V. The point is, Mexicans love synth-heavy pop dreck — embarrassingly so. Sometimes, great music comes out of this amor — witness grupero groups like Los Barón de Apodaca or Bronco, pop geniuses such as Los Bukis, or "96 Tears," by ? and the Mysterians, the greatest song in human history. But most of the time, it's just terrible; look at Timbiriche or whatever youth group Televisa is placing on a telenovela. Italo dance and 1970s- and 1980s-era Eurodance fall somewhere in between great and grating, which means that Mexicans will dance to it. Hell, Mexicans will dance to anything — how else to explain the popularity of Maná?
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.